In an effort to avoid yet another general election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday he would accept a compromise with his coalition partner to end a prolonged budget dispute.
“This is a time for unity, not for elections,” Netanyahu said in an unscheduled press conference announcing the last-minute compromise, helping Israel avoid an unprecedented fourth election within 18 months.
Few in Israel had relished the thought of fresh elections while the country battles both a pandemic and a severe economic crisis.
The new political strife was sparked by a conflict over whether the government should adopt a budget for the current year only or also for 2021.
Huge cracks have appeared within Israel’s three-month-old ruling coalition between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-leaning Likud party and the centrist Blue and White alliance led by Defence Minister Benny Gantz.
Had the deadline for an agreement at midnight (2100 GMT) on Monday not been postponed, this would have triggered the fourth new election in a year and a half.
Israeli law stipulates that the state budget must be passed within 100 days of a government being sworn in.
The leader of the right-wing conservative Likud party called on his coalition partner, the centrist Blue and White alliance, to “work towards common goals”.
Following a historic agreement with the United Arab Emirates, the country was now seeking agreements with other states in the region, Netanyahu said.